Archive for the ‘Yard Sales’ Category

Attic Treasure Hunting

The value of any treasure discovered is always dependent on the quality, uniqueness, and scarcity of the particular items. Attics have always been the source of great treasure hunts for years, as well as the source of great agony.

For families who have to clear out and dispose of their valued treasures, it is difficult. Time and patience is a valuable commodity when sorting and clearing attic treasures. Care and concern should be given with all items as there may be items that have both monetary and sentimental value, or NOT. If you are fortunate enough to find one or two pieces in that category, then you need to decide what to do with them. Even finding a piece or two with sentimental value only – something you had long forgotten about it — will be a wonderful discovery.

Once the Treasure Hunt is complete and the “stuff” has been categorized what happens now?  For the items you have decided to keep, it depends on the situation you and the family are in; you might be moving so will these items move to new location or will you be taking them to your home? Or you may be staying for a while longer so that will require repacking and labeling the contents of the carton or bin. Be sure to put a date on the bin so you know how long ago you last viewed the contents. Put these repacked and organized containers neatly in a designated space for future access.

Now, you need to take away the items designated as trash, donation, give to family, or sell.

  • Move the trash, if possible, directly out to the curb, a dumpster or at least to the garage to wait for trash day.
  • If you have not already scheduled a donation pick up; do it now.   Move the donation items down to the garage clearly marking them as donations – not to be mistaken for trash.   Resist the temptation of second guessing your decisions.
  • Items marked ‘give to family’, bring them down to an area that can be designated staging area; put all items in here clearly marked with the designated family member’s name. Make a call and schedule a time for      things to be picked up. You may need to make several calls, and then  finally say; “If you don’t come by Sunday, I will be putting them in the trash on Monday.”
  • Put all items for sale in one spot (either leave them in the attic or garage marked sale items). Then determine what type of sale to have.  Arrange for  an appraisal, if necessary. Set a date, even if it is weeks or months away, it will help motivate you to complete the project.

For items that you truly feel have monetary value but you don’t know what it is, I recommend strongly that you pay for an appraisal from a qualified independent appraiser, who knows furniture or artwork. By having an appraisal of the pieces in question, you will be able to make an educated and informed decision on what you want to do with the pieces in question. You won’t walk into a store someday and see your piece (or something very similar) for sale for hundreds of dollars and you sold it for $5 at a moving sale!

Patience, persistence, and many helping hands are the basic elements needed to complete this project. It could take days, weeks, or even months, depending on the level of all available elements at any point in time.


In Her Easter Bonnet

My first client was at one time a very fashionable woman.  She had clothing that would make most women very jealous.  Designer dresses and suits with matching shoes, handbags and  most importantly a hat.  Most of these beautiful clothes had not been in style for at least 30 years.

When it came time to sort through her clothes and decide what she could keep, it was a very traumatic experience for her.  My client, I’ll call her “Ms Daisy”, wanted to keep everything.  Even though she was not able to wear any of the outfits. 

After much discussion and a few tears “Ms Daisy” reluctantly agreed that to donate the clothes, shoes, and handbags.  However, “Ms Daisy” said that she wanted the hats!  Most of them had been beautiful at one time, but their beauty was long gone.  Again after much discussion and a great deal of compromise on both “Ms Daisy” and me. So we packed up one small box of hats that moved with ” Ms Daisy”.
“Ms Daisy” really loved her hats, every time I visited with her she had one of her hats on.  It didn’t matter how bad it might have looked, it made her feel dressed up!  She never stopped admiring hats. One of my last visits with her, I took her to an appointment, and she was all dressed up with her mink pill box hat. 

On our way to her appointment we had a conversation about the hat the Aretha Franklin wore at the 2009 Inauguration.  She loved that hat!  

I believe wearing her hats made her feel physically better than she actually felt.  So compromising a bit and taking a few of her favorite hats made her happy. Ms Daisy felt more in control of her life even though she new she really was not. 

“Ms Daisy”, if she could, would strutting her stuff wearing her best Easter Bonnet!

View From Claire’s Window!

The view from my office window  is a beautiful ocean, beach scene.  I havewindow this window compliments of my sister, who gave it to me for Christmas.  My office doesn’t have a window, and I kept saying I needed a window.  I sit there and visually and ideal pleasant day until I leave the office and I see the real world and the white, winter wonderland people living in New England, really up and down the East Coast, have experienced this winter.

 I am sitting in my office looking at the window and thinking about some indoor projects to do when ‘the weather outside if the weather out side is frightful’.  Here are 3 de-cluttering and organizing projects.

  1. Organize Your Books. Pick up all the books lying around the house, pull out all the books on the book shelves, dust the shelves and the books, organize the books, and put them back on the shelves. Any books you do  not want donate them to the Friends of the Library for their next book sale.
  2. Front Hall Closet.  Pull everything out of the closet, examine it, try it on, inspect clothing items to see if it needs repairs or cleaning, donate items that you do not use or does not fit. Only put back in the closet the items that are meant to be there.  Find a home for everything else.
  3. Your Work Desk. Take everything off the top of the desk-everything you do not use either throw out or give away, do not put anything back on the desk top until you finish going through all the drawers. Do 1 drawer at a time, dump the contents on the desk top, go through everything and determine its value – keep or throw out-do this for every drawer.

These projects are things we put off doing but we all need to do them once in a while.  With the weather we have been having these 3 projects will help to pass the time and give you a wonderful sense of accomplishment when you cannot or should not venture outdoors in the snow and on the ice.  

Wishing you a warm and safe this winter, as I continue to stare at my ocean scene counting the days until Spring.

Are You Going to Sell Soon?

Last week I attended a local Chamber of Commerce meeting where I met a local real estate agent.  At chamber meetings this is not unusual; however, this gentleman and I seemed to hit it off right from the start.  Maybe it was our age, we are both aging baby boomers, but I believe the reason was we are focusing on the same target market – aging baby boomers–and we believe the same things. 

What we were both saying is; Baby boomers should not wait until the last-minute to start preparing their home to sell and move.  The time to start thinking, preparing, and doing; is 3-5 years from when you want to sell and move.  This is true for your own home or your parent’s home.  The earlier you start thinking about this process the better off everyone will be.

There are so many things that can be done to prepare ahead of time to prepare to sell and move from your longtime home.  Most of us seem to procrastinate and put things off until the last-minute.  We seem to think that there isn’t too much to do, and we are shocked and overwhelmed to find out just how much you should have done in advance, how little time you now have, and how much this is all going to cost you in both time and money.

My realtor friend would tell you that if you plan on selling three years from now you should consider doing some repairs, upgrades, and neutralizing to your home during this time period.  You could very easily recover the cost of the work, and your home will sell easier and quicker. Now I would tell you that it is a good idea to start de-cluttering, downsizing, and organizing the areas of your home that might be over crowded and cluttered.   It is never too early to start this process, and by the time you are ready to sell and move, you will be so far ahead of the game.  

Procrastination is a tough road block to break through.  If everyone said I will take care of this tomorrow nothing would be getting done.  One improvement, upgrade, or repair a year or every six months and one de-clutter/organizing project every quarter will keep you moving forward toward your goal of selling and moving.  Before you know it, it is time to put the house on the market and move.

Unfortunately, most of us wait until the last-minute or until a crisis happens, then we are pushed to take action.  Whether it is illness, death, or just plain old procrastination it makes things far more difficult to get things done when working under pressure and stressed because of a current situation. The old adage of “works well under pressure” isn’t necessarily right. Working under pressure causes mistakes, damage, additional money, and unnecessary stress.

 My Tip is:  Avoid procrastination, work steadily toward the goal, and you will be rewarded for your hard work when you achieve your goal.

Three Suggestions for Baby Boomer’s to Downsizing Parents Home.

For years, with both happiness and sadness, parents have sent their children off to college and the children leave a lot of their “STUFF” behind.  This “STUFF” has a tendency to “hang out” at the house for a long time.  Somehow this gives parents the feeling that “The children will be back because they want their “STUFF”
In a lot of cases, parents whose children left the family home years ago – for college, pursuing a career, or for marriage, left behind “STUFF” that is still hanging around in the basement and attic.  When I work with clients I find and I am told; “Oh that belongs to Suzie (or Dick), I have it until they have room.”

Fall is when many of us are thinking of clearing out our gardens and preparing them for winter.  This would also be a perfect time to start weeding out all the stuff that has been hanging around your parent’s homes that you left behind when you moved on with your lives.

Three suggestions on how to begin to help your parents to organize and downsize and get rid of the trash you or your siblings left behind.

  1. Send a friendly little email to your siblings, telling them what you plan and when you are planning to do it.
  2. Give them a specific date that if they want anything they left behind to come and take it away.
  3. Stick to the plan.  When the deadline comes and goes, start the clean out process, and donate, sell, or throw out all items that you do not want or need.
You will feel so much better for having done this and so will your parents.  Remember this will need to be done sooner or later and NOW is a perfect time to start.

No Air Conditioning, Fans, or Fresh Air!

Okay, I am sitting here at my computer barely dressed, in an air-conditioned office, under the overhead fan and I am hot!    I love summer as long as my home and car is air-conditioned and I have ceiling fans, with out these conveniences I would not be a happy camper.   Not sure how we made it through so many years with out these things.

Even though I am hot, I am far better off compared to a woman I visited this morning.     This woman was in a small, very cluttered home with no air conditioning, fans, or fresh air!   It was stifling sitting at her kitchen table.   It amazes me how she was able to be in that house.   How do our seniors do it.

We talked for about 20 minutes before I was given the grand tour of the home to figure out what was required — just to put the house on the market.   It really was a nice home in a very nice neighborhood of starter homes.   Her problem is that she is sick, old, and physically unable to maintain the property.   She is barely able to take care of herself!   There was no discussion of family in the area to help her, and we talked about her using my services.   She said,  she was at her WITTZ END!   And she was!

Once I get going, and tackle the house one room at a time it will quickly start to shape up!   This is what I do, one room at a time, I move my clients from FRAZZLED TO DAZZLED!   After her home is sold we will move her into a retirement community where she will have all the amenities that she deserves, and she will not have to worry about the lawn, heating oil, or air conditioning.

Who Is That Man In The Photo With Mom?

My sister and I have boxes and boxes full of old photographs.   These photo’s are from attics and basements of our many relatives, who have left us long ago.   They were fun to look through when we were cleaning out their attics and basements, but now they reside in our basement and we never look at them.   The reason we never look at these photo’s is, we do not recognize most of the people or places in the photo’s!

This point was driven home the other day, when we attended a 90th birthday party for one of our favorite relatives.   His children went to great effort, to sort through scrapbooks, photo albums, and boxes of old photo’s, scanned hundreds of these photo’s and created DVD’s to show at the birthday party.   It was great fun looking at the photo’s projected on the large screen – we all laughed at the hair, clothing, and bathing suit styles of way back then!   There were some people who we recognized, but most we could not remember.    I even saw my parent’s wedding photo.    It showed the entire wedding party, but I was unable to recognize or remember the names of everyone in the picture.

Here are 5 suggestions for people wondering what to do with all those old photo’s you have in the basement or attic:

  1. Pull all the photo’s out, sort through and keep only one of every photo — eliminate and throw out the duplicates.
  2. Then take what’s left and find your oldest living relatives and spend a few hours going through the photo’s.
  3. When that person says, “Oh, that’s your Uncle Joe, he was married to my Father’s sister.”, write that information down on the back of the photo;
  4. Or, place a number on the back of the photo and on a separate piece of paper record the – who, what, and when, and cross-reference the description to the number on the photo.
  5. Then, scan the photo and burn the file to a CD.  Use a software program that has audio recording and record the notations for each photo.    You will be able to give duplicates to everyone in the family.

Now you have some recollection of the people and the history behind the photo’s, that your relatives have saved throughout the  years.    It will take some time, energy, and patience to do this project, but what a shame it would be if their history and lives of your family and ancestors from several decades ago remains a mystery.

You know You Grew Up In . . . When You Remember!

It is funny how Face Book pages are springing up reminiscing about the good old days of growing up in your home town.  We are all looking back on them through rose color glasses, and fondly remembering things that we did way back when.  I am doing the very same thing and I really enjoy connecting with classmates and others who remember a kinder gentler time.

I remember when every Saturday morning we loaded up the car, in my case it was my Mother’s Rambler American, with trash for the weekly trip to the Town Dump.   The Dump, not politically correct now, was the place to go, be seen, to meet people, and to find precious worldly treasures.

Every politician running for office would do meet and greats at the dump!  Every organization with a cause to promote was at the dump passing out information or demonstrating for their cause.  You could always see and talk with someone you knew, whether you wanted to or not.

Then there were the people who would rummage through the items people dropped off looking for the treasure of the day.   You would be amazed and the people who were rummaging.   Looking back this isn’t such a bad idea.   Many good things have been tossed out in haste and found by people who were just browsing.

Today, I am finding that some well known charities have stopped accepting furniture and other household items.   It is becoming more difficult to find places for clients to donate or give away their valued possessions.   Although our environment no longer encourages open dumping, I fondly remember the “good old days” when I spent Saturday mornings at the Town Dump, shaking hands with politicians and the trash pickers!

Will I Have Room For My ______?

When I am at a client’s home, their most FAQ is “Will I have room for my wonderful Hummel’s or whatever the items might be?”  They have spent years collecting these items and they mean a great deal to them and not having them is going to make adjusting to the move more difficult than it all ready is.   Many times the answer is no, there is no room.  

I hate telling my clients NO.  They are my client and I pride myself on trying to find the best possible solutions to their problems.   I may able to resolve all the problems but at least I give it my best.   I continually try to find solutions and think outside the box.  

Three suggestions that may help solve and relieve some of my client’s anxiety are:

  1. I try to decide if there is room for a smaller quantity of the collection.  If there is a space for a small curio shelf (on the wall) or a cabinet in a corner. 
  2. I work with the client and select a ½ dozen items of the collection that are the very favorites, and they mean more than all the rest, and explain that a few could be displayed on the top of a chest of drawers, a hope chest, or one or two on a coffee table, and then find similar locations to group a few others around the new home.
  3. If the collection are larger pieces such as a grandfather clock and no matter what you do there is just no possible way it will fit in the new apartment, have a family member check with the facility and see if the piece could be loaned and displayed in one of the common areas.   This way the clients knows where it is and will see it daily, and it is still in the family.

Most of the time when there are many pieces that are similar in size, shape and design, one cannot fully appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of the collection.   So strategically selecting meaningful pieces of a collection will help satisfy many issues when downsizing and moving.


This is a very sad situation among seniors today.   Particularly in this economic environment that we are living through and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.   They need to sell their homes and belongings in order to pay to live in assisted living or nursing homes.   There doesn’t seem to be any assistance for seniors who have some moderate income sources.   They have too much for assistance but not enough to live in the style that they have been living.   With the housing market down significantly their homes are not worth what they could have sold them for 3-4 years ago.  The furnishings and stuff that they have acquired cannot be sold for any significant amount of money.   They are caught between a rock and a hard place.

My friend Miss Daisy is in this situation.   She moved to an assisted living because she could not continue to live in her beautiful condominium that she and her late husband purchsed 15 years ago.   They purchased all the best appliances and put in all the most wonderful upgrades.   They lived a great life!    Family members don’t live close and they are having financial struggles of their own, which Miss Daisy has been trying to help them. 

The situation is getting desperate.  The condo will sell for only a fraction of its’ true value and it might take several month for it to sell.   Miss Daisy’s heal is frail.  Everything that can be sold has been sold.   The money from these items was minimal and is now gone.   Miss Daisy is FRAZZLED!   But her faith is helping her to deal with the situation and she has not lost her sense of humor.   She is sharp as a tack and sees a light at the end of every tunnel.  

Let me tell you a humorous story and I know that Miss Daisy saw the humor in what was going on and enjoyed every minute of the day I drove her to a Doctor’s appointment.    Let me set the scene; Miss Daisy is a retired HS English teacher, with a master’s from Harvard and she is a very elegant, refined black woman who in her day was active in the civil rights movement.    During the course of the most recent election we had many conversations about our new President.   Miss Daisy’s Dr appointment was the day after the inagural and I looked forward to her views of the celebration.  

When I arrived at the assisted living facility, not in the best neighborhood of Boston, she was all ready to go, and she was dress in her full lenght mink coat and matching hat sitting in her wheelchair!   So off we went!   At the top of the handicap ramp she told me that she would be riding in the back seat!   Okay, not a problem except I felt like I was in the movie DRIVING MISS DAISY – of course the role was reversed.  

Now as I am reflecting on this field trip it makes me realize how inspite of all her troubles Miss Daisy thoroughly enjoyed herself, and so did I, it made her feel good to have someone drive her around, wait on her, and she loved riding in the back seat.   I saw her faith and humor that day.   I know the irony of the reversed roles was not lost on her.  

Take a moment to appreciate and understand the difficulty our seniors are experiencing.

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